Rotifers in Lake Orta: a potential ecological and evolutionary model system
Lake Orta experienced for a few decades a unique history of chronic pollution, with extreme changes in pH and copper concentration. Currently, the lake has recovered to its almost pristine oligotrophic conditions, but its sediments still preserve the record of all the changes that happened since the establishment of the first polluting factories in the 1920s, through to the liming activities in 1989-1990, and to the recovery phase that is still going on. Here we review the current knowledge for Lake Orta regarding rotifers, a diverse component of the zooplankton of the lake, through studies on living organisms and on their resting stages accumulated in the sediments. We also report a brief review of what is known in general on the effects of changes in pH and copper concentration on rotifers at the population, species and community level, providing expectations for such effects on the rotifers of Lake Orta. Then, we conclude our review with a perspective on the potential use of rotifers hatched from the resting stages in the sediment of Lake Orta with the description of experiments that can be performed in the future in the framework of resurrection ecology, in order to understand the mechanisms of past and future changes in the environment.
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